Suicide in the United States

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Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States as of 2010, more people died of suicide than in car accidents. In 2010, the total number of suicide deaths in the United States was 38,364. Historically, suicide rates rise during times of financial stress and economic setbacks.[1] In 2009 it was the 7th leading cause of death for males, and the 16th leading cause of death for females. Suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.[2]It is also the second leading cause for those age 15-34. From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans, aged - 35 to 64 increased nearly 30 percent. The largest increases were among men in their 50s, a rates rising near 50 percent, or 30 per 100,000. For women aged 60 to 64, rates rose 60 percent to 7.0 per 100,000.[1] In 2008, it was observed that U.S. suicide rates, particularly among middle-aged white women, had increased, although the causes were unclear.[3] The government seeks to prevent suicides through its National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a collaborative effort of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Indian Health Service.[4] Their plan consists of 11 goals aimed at preventing suicides.[5] Older adults are disproportionately likely to die by suicide.[6]

Some U.S. jurisdictions have laws against suicide or against assisting suicide. In recent years, there has been increased interest in rethinking these laws.[7]

Suicide has been associated with tough economic conditions, including unemployment.[8]

A study in 2011 found a correlation between altitude above sea level and suicide.[9] There is some indication that ongoing lack of oxygen may lead to depression and paradoxically, in some cases, euphoria.[10][11] This potential correlation does not seem to be widely appreciated as recent articles fail to mention the findings.[12][13] Graphics showing the rate of suicide by state[14] and a view of exaggerated elevation[15][16][17] would seem to support the linkage between altitude and rates of suicide.

According to USA Today there is a suicide every 13 minutes in The United States of America. Stated in an article by USA Today there are far less homicides than suicides, in-fact homicide rates have fallen by half since 1991.

Number of suicides by age group and gender[edit]

Number of suicides by age group and sex. USA, 2005.[18]
Age (years) 5 - 14 15 - 24 25 - 34 35 - 44 45 - 54 55 - 64 65 - 74 75+ All
Males 204 3489 4059 5053 5257 3241 1935 2603 25848
Females 68 713 922 1483 1719 954 403 448 6711
Both 272 4202 4981 6536 6976 4195 2338 3051 32533


Further information: Murder–suicide

There have been many high-profile incidents in the United States in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s of individuals committing "suicide by cop" or killing others before killing themselves. Examples include the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the 2010 Austin plane crash, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the 2014 Isla Vista killings.

Rates compared to other countries[edit]

Trend of suicide deaths from 1960 to 2007 for the nations of Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.



A United States Army suicide prevention poster

A 2009 U.S. Army report indicates military veterans have double the suicide rate of non-veterans, and more active-duty soldiers are dying from suicide than in combat in the Iraq War (2003-2011) and War in Afghanistan (2001–present).[19] Colonel Carl Castro, director of military operational medical research for the Army noted "there needs to be a cultural shift in the military to get people to focus more on mental health and fitness."[20] In 2012, the US Army reported 185 suicides among active-duty troops, exceeding the number of combat deaths in that year (176). This figure has significantly increased since 2001, when the number of suicides was 52.[21]


Attempted suicide rates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults in the U.S. are three times higher than national averages.[22] According to some groups, this is linked to heterocentric cultures and institutionalised homophobia in some cases, including the use of LGBTQ people as a political wedge issue, such as in the contemporary efforts to halt legalizing same-sex marriages.[23] Many tie bullying, including cyberbullying to suicides of LGBTQ youth. Singer Lady Gaga has been outspoken on these issues, and has met U.S. President Barack Obama to urge that bullying of this nature be declared a hate crime.[24] Founded in 1998 to address suicide among LGBT youth, The Trevor Project has enlisted a variety of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Daniel Radcliffe,[25] Neil Patrick Harris,[26] James Marsden,[27] Chris Colfer,[28] Kim Kardashian,[29] Darren Criss,[30] Dianna Agron,[31] George Takei,[32] and Anderson Cooper.[33] They use National Suicide Prevention Week to launch new initiatives and campaigns utilizing their celebrity supporters.[34] The project was founded by the Academy Award-winning filmmakers of Trevor, about a gay thirteen-year-old boy who attempts suicide when his friends reject him because of his sexuality.[35] The filmmakers realized that some of the program's viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and not finding a helpline for LGBTQ youth they created one.[35] The Trevor Lifeline is the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth.[36]


Many studies have found very high rates of suicide in people with autism spectrum disorders, including high functioning autism and what was formerly known as Asperger syndrome. Autism and particularly Asperger syndrome are highly associated with clinical depression and as many as 30 percent or more of people with Asperger syndrome also suffer from depression. [37]

One study found that children with autism are 28 times more likely to ideate or attempt suicide than the general population. [38] This is possibly even higher than the rate among rape survivors, who are 13 times more likely than non-crime victims to attempt suicide. [39]Another study found that being an adult and having Asperger syndrome increases the suicide risk 10 fold. [40]

This may be related to the shunning, harassment, and violence that is commonly perpetrated upon people with autism. One study found that 18.5% of American children with autism had been physically abused and 16.5% had been sexually abused [41] People with autism are much more likely to be sexually abused than the general population. [42]

Another possible factor is the likely increased prevalence of chronic pain in people with autism, contrary to the popular belief that autistic people are insensitive to pain. [43] Autism has been found to be closely related to fibromyalgia, a common chronic pain disorder. [44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b TARA PARKER-POPE (May 2013). "Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S.". 
  2. ^ "NIMH · Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention". doi:10.1136/ip.2005.010850. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Suicide Rate Increases". 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  4. ^ "Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration". Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  5. ^ "Substance Abuse and Mental Health Publications| SAMHSA Store". Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  6. ^ Tuesday, 17 February 2009 12:05 (2009-02-17). "In Harm's Way: Suicide in America - MHM: Suicide". Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  7. ^ Engelhardt, H. Tristram Jr.; Malloy, Michele (1982–1983), Suicide and Assisting Suicide: A Critique of Legal Sanctions 36, Sw. L.J., p. 1003 
  8. ^ DS Hamermesh, NM Soss (1974), An economic theory of suicide, The journal of political economy 
  9. ^ Barry Brenner, David Cheng, Sunday Clark (2011), Positive Association between Altitude and Suicide in 2584 U.S. Counties, High Altitude Medicine and Biology 
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  18. ^ [World health organization Country report for the USA]
  19. ^ Woods, Tyler (September 7, 2009). "This Week Is National Suicide Prevention Week". Emax Health. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  20. ^ Jelinek, Pauline (September 5, 2008). "Army: soldier suicide rate may set record again". USA Today/Associated Press. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Wood, David (September 25, 2013). "Army Chief Ray Odierno Warns Military Suicides 'Not Going To End' After War Is Over". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Melin, Amy (September 11, 2008). "AFSP walkathon raises suicide awareness". Western Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  23. ^ National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Tackles LGBT Suicide, (April 26, 2012), Kellan Baker and Josh Garcia, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
  24. ^ Michaels, Sean (September 23, 2011). "Lady Gaga to meet with Obama over bullying: Singer plans to discuss anti-bullying legislation with president following fan's suicide". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  25. ^ Barnard, Linda (November 19, 2010). "Happy as Harry; A Grown-up Daniel Radcliffe Talks Bras, Girlfriends, Fame and New Opportunities as He Reflects on a Decade Playing the Boy Wizard". Toronto Star. p. E.1. 
  26. ^ "Neil Patrick Harris' Message to Gay Youth," October 3, 2010 on YouTube
  27. ^ Estrada, Nora Alicia (December 7, 2010). "Dicen no al suicidio". Mural (in Spanish) (Guadalajara, Mexico). p. 2. 
  28. ^ Moore, John (October 19, 2010). "Celebrities Flooding Internet with Anti-Gay Bullying Posts". Charleston Daily Mail. p. B.10. 
  29. ^ "Kim Kardashian Donates $50,000 to The Trevor Project". January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Darren Criss performs "Not Alone" at Trevor Live," December 13, 2010 on YouTube
  31. ^ The Trevor Project: Dianna Agron Birthday Project
  32. ^ "George Takei Calls Out Anti-Gay Arkansas School Board Member," November 1, 2010 on YouTube
  33. ^ "Anderson Cooper, Dr. Oz to compete on 'Jeopardy' Power Players Week". 
  34. ^ Marc Malkin; Brett Malec (September 1, 2011). "Glee Star Kevin McHale Talks to Troubled Gay Youths". E! Online. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  35. ^ a b "History of The Trevor Project". The Trevor Project. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  36. ^ Staff (October 13, 1998). "Trevor Lends a 24-Hour Ear to Youth". The Advocate (via Google Books). p. 14. Retrieved August 1, 2011. ...the nation's first toll-free 24-hour suicide prevention hot line for gay and questioning youth. 
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